Lakers Rumors: Latest Trade Reports Before 2017 NBA Draft Lottery

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 23: Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers handles the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers 106-102 to sweep the series 4-0. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery is huge for the direction of the Los Angeles Lakers, as a top-three pick will land them an elite prospect, while anything outside the top three will result in the selection going to the Philadelphia 76ers and their 2019 first-rounder will go to the Orlando Magic as part of the Dwight Howard trade.

Regardless of how the lottery plays out, though, there could be big changes on the horizon for a Lakers team itching to return to the glory days of old.

A new front-office power structure consisting of president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka was put in place to win in the near future, and L.A. may be trying to accelerate that process.

According to ESPN.com's Zach Lowe, the Lakers are expected to "dangle prospects" in a potential trade for Indiana Pacers superstar Paul George.

Los Angeles doesn't boast a surefire superstar on its roster, but it has plenty of intriguing, young pieces.

Among them are guards D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson and forwards Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr.

Russell, Randle and Ingram are all high first-round picks from the past three years, and although none of them have broken out with a huge statistical season yet, they all possess All-Star ability.

While parting ways with any of them would be a risk on the Lakers' part, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News expressed his belief to Fred Roggin and Rodney Peete of AM570 (h/t Josh Criswell of AM570) in April that L.A. is open to essentially anything on the trade front: "If I had to guess, there are definitely going to be changes made. But as far as who stays and who leaves, it's obviously hard to tell at this point. ... No one is safe. They don't have a Kobe Bryant on the team anymore, so everyone is on the table right now."

As much as the Lakers may want George, reports suggest the Palmdale, California, native wants to return to the L.A. area just as much.

Sam Amick of USA Today reported in February that George is "hellbent" on joining the Lakers unless the Pacers manage to piece together a championship contender.

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News also reported in April that some of George's former teammates said the four-time All-Star "never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers locker room" with regard to wanting to play for the Lakers.

The 2017-18 season is the final campaign on George's contract before a player option kicks in, meaning he can become a free agent in 2018.

That means L.A. could wait and make a potential run at him in free agency, but the Pacers may be open to trading him prior to that rather than risking him walking and getting nothing in return.

If George gets traded to a team other than the Lakers and likes the situation, it is possible he could sign a long-term deal, resulting in Los Angeles missing the boat completely.

Trading away high-ceiling pieces for George would be a roll of the dice, but he is precisely the type of player the Lakers need.

He is still fairly young at 27 years of age and is coming off a season that saw him average a career-high 23.7 points per game to go along with 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals.

Putting him alongside the young players they are able to retain and a possible top-three pick would suddenly make the Lakers look like a far more formidable team not only in 2017-18, but for many years to come.


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